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الجمعة، 20 مارس 2015

Iraq snapshot Thursday, March 19, 2015.

Iraq snapshot Thursday, March 19, 2015.

The Common Ills
Thursday, March 19, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, stupidity helped create the illegal war, stupidity also helped continue it, we look at Patrick Cockburn and other stupid people, we explore the concept of 'original sin' with regards to Iraq, and much more.

March 19, 2003, the Iraq War began as this ABC News report noted:

 
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Chris Bury: At 9:33 [p.m.] Eastern Time, just about an hour and a half after the president's deadline, the first reports came in of explosions in Baghdad.  US Central Command here in Doha [Qatar] confirmed an operation was underway aimed at specific targets of Saddam Hussein's regime.  The early stages of war had begun.  Just over 48 hours ago, President Bush issued that ultimatum to Saddam Hussein: Step down or face the consequences. That deadline came and went tonight.  And less than two hours after that 8:00 pm deadline passed, the White House press corps was told that the president would be making a statement to the nation.  A statement that everyone knew eventually was coming. 

The Iraq War is criminal, to be sure.

Starting it was also stupid.

This snapshot, we salute the stupid.

Today is a solemn day for us. Twelve years ago the Bush administration launched the illegal invasion of Iraq, forever altering millions of lives.
As an organization made up of veterans who have seen firsthand the impacts of war and who have also been deeply implicated in it, we know that this day must be seared into our collective conscience. Forgetting can not be an option.

Was it a fateful day?

Seems there were a lot of fateful days.

Seems like IVAW stopped being against the war when Barack got into office.

My personal favorite moment with IVAW is laughing at them in Denver in the summer of 2008.

Ava and I were there for the DNC Convention.  IVAW was there to whore.

Oh, they pretended otherwise.

They had a tantrum they tried to pass off as a protest.

And Barack's campaign was genuinely worried.

And the press was interested.

But Barack sent out a flunky to talk to them and they fell for it.

They stopped their tantrum and got Punk'd.

They've been useless pretty much ever since.

They've been silent as Barack's sent more troops into Iraq in the last months.

They were silent about Nouri al-Maliki and his reign of terror.

They're useless.

Once upon a time, they pushed their way to the front of the peace movement.  They knew, they insisted, because they were there.

Apparently, they left their spines there.

Because they couldn't call out Barack.

Not when he went after Libya, not with his Drone War and not even with regards to Iraq.

Iraq Veterans Against the War?

The reality was many weren't Iraq veterans.

Turns out the larger reality is that many weren't even against war.  They were just against Bully Boy Bush.

Their statement comes close to 'original sin' -- arguing that today is a reflection of March 19, 2003.  US President Barack Obama tried to pass the Islamic State off as that this week.

In fairness, it was a rejection of the ridiculous origin tale John Kerry offered to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 11th.

Pravda covered Barack's statements:

US President Barack Obama, talking to Vice News, spoke about his vision of the US role in the formation of the Islamic State terrorist group. Obama said bluntly that the United States was involved in the creation of the group.
"ISIL is a direct outgrowth of Al-Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion, which is An example of unintended consequences, which is why we should generally aim before we shoot," Obama said.

The US president said later that the US actions in Iraq after the 9/11 attacks were unintentional and added that he did not expect they would cause such aggression on the part of local militants that it would lead to the creation of new armed groups, Pravda.Ru reports. 

Should we generally aim before we shoot?

Possibly.

Possibly, we might also try respecting election results.

Today, there is massive whining -- Andrea Mitchell's one of the worst -- about the election of the leader . . . of Israel.

I don't understand where you get off, as a non-Israeli, being so outraged by the results.

What gives you the right to stick your damn nose everywhere?

Do you ever think maybe you should close your mouth?

This attitude is the same attitude Barack had in 2010.

The Islamic State came to prominence because of Barack.

He refused to honor the election results which saw Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya beat Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law.

When Nouri refused to step down and honor the election results, he created an eight month political stalemate where nothing happened.

And the White House backed him.

They even had US officials negotiate a legal contract, The Erbil Agreement,

Having voided the votes of the Iraqi people with this contract, the White House then refused to honor their promise to Iraqi politicians.

To get the blocks to agree to a second term for loser Nouri, the US officials insisted that the other political blocs could list their priorities in the contract (i.e. the Kurds had the implementation of Article 150 of the Iraqi Constitution as one of their items put into the contract) and that this was a legally binding contract with the full backing of the White House.

The day after it was signed, Parliament finally had their first really meeting, eight months after the elections.

And Nouri refused to honor the agreement, said he needed time, and Iraqiya walked out.

And Barack did what?

Called Ayad Allawi and asked him (begged) to send Iraqiya back into Parliament, insisting (yet again) that The Erbil Agreement had the full support and backing of the White House.

But when Nouri never implemented his part of The Erbil Agreement, when he just used it to get a second term and then ignored the promises he made?

The White House did nothing.

Acted like they knew nothing about the contract.

The 2010 elections let the Iraqi people see their votes overturned.

Now their leaders were protesting Nouri's refusal to implement The Erbil Agreement.  By the summer of 2011, the Kurds, Iraqiya and cleric and movement leader (Shi'ite) Moqtada al-Sadr were calling for Nouri to implement The Erbil Agreement.

When he continued to refuse, they attempted to work within the Constitution and go for a recall vote.  But the US government wouldn't let that happen either.  They pressured the always willing to fold Jalal Talabani to invent an excuse to stop the Constitutional process and he did.

So now you have the voters stripped of their vote, their leaders stripped of their rights of Constitutional redress.

This is when Iraqis take to the street and begin what is over a year of protests.

Let's bring another idiot in real quick.

Today, Patrick Cockburn  offered more of his one-sided reporting:

The fact that so many Sunnis are alienated from or terrified by Isis should present an opportunity for Baghdad, since Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s government is meant to be more inclusive than that of his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki. Increasingly aggressive sectarian policies pursued by Mr Maliki during his eight years in power are now blamed for turning peaceful protests by Sunnis into armed resistance and pushing the Sunni community into the arms of Isis. This is an over-simplified version of recent history, but with the new government lauded internationally for its non-sectarian stance, the Sunni hoped they would face less day-to-day repression. “Isis has shocked many Sunni by its actions,” says Mahmoud. “But instead of the government treating us better to win us over, they are treating us even worse.”

Noam Chomsky likes to praise Cockburn.

Probably because they both share that paternalistic nature when it comes to Arabs, that attitude of they know better than Arabs, that condescending nature that allows them to act like they're smarter than the Palestinians, etc.

Cockburn 'reports' on Iraq for the Independent.

He ignored the protests.

They lasted over a year.

And he ignored them.

He was far from alone in ignoring the protests.

To give you an idea of the protests, lets's drop back to the October 25, 2013 snapshot:

Iraqi Spring MC notes protests took place in BaqubaSamarraFallujaMosulRawa, andRamadi.  National Iraqi News Agency reports thousands turned out in Falluja and Ramadi for the Anbar sit-ins and quote Shiekh Mohammed Fayyad declaring, "The citizens participated in the prayers that held in the courtyard northern Ramadi and eastern Fallujah cities , stressing that the goal of this trickle is to send one again a message to the governing in Baghdad that our demonstrations are peaceful and backed by citizens deep conviction."  Al Mada reports organizers distributed forms in Ramadi and Falluja for families of the detained to fill out in the hopes that they can locate their loved one and determine the status.  Many are held without charges.  Many have been thrown in detention centers, jails and prisons for no reason -- they are accused of no crimes but are related to a suspect the police could not find so family members were knowing rounded up even though they were not suspects.  In Samaeea Sheikh Ziad Madhi noted that the protests are not about political parties but our about justice -- first and foremost, a call to release the innocent detainees.  In Baquba Shebab al-Badri echoed the emphasis on detainees and stated they would continue to demand the release of the detainees and continue to call for an end to the raids (mass arrests) that continue to target Sunni communities.  Kitabat reports on Sheikh Ziad Mahdi in Samarra who noted the detainees remain imprisoned and remain a priority of protesters.  The Sheikh noted the demands for the release of the innocent detainees continue because they have not been released so the sit-ins continue. He noted that Nouri al-Maliki is responsible for the continued deterioration of security in Iraq.  Iraqi Spring MC notes there were calls for the United Nations and others to witness what it really taking place in Iraqcalls for an end to Iranian interference in IraqFalluja speakers called for an end to injustice and the flowing of blood in the streets, and Nouri al-Maliki was denounced for using militias to stay in power.  Kitabat also reports on Sheikh Humam Kubaisi in Ramadi and how he noted ten months have passed and still the demands are not met.

These protests were ignored.

Nouri's attacks on the protesters were ignored.

January 7, 2013, Nouri's forces assaulted four protesters in Mosul,  January 24, 2013,  Nouri's forces sent two protesters (and one reporter) to the hospital,  and March 8, 2013, Nouri's force fired on protesters in Mosul killing three.

And then came the April 23rd massacre of a peaceful sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll rose to 53 dead.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

Finally, Patrick Cockburn was interested.

Not interested enough to note what UNICEF did.

To this day, Cockburn has never reported that 8 children were killed by Nouri's forces or that twelve more were wounded.

To this day.

But today he shows up to offer:

The fact that so many Sunnis are alienated from or terrified by Isis should present an opportunity for Baghdad, since Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s government is meant to be more inclusive than that of his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki. Increasingly aggressive sectarian policies pursued by Mr Maliki during his eight years in power are now blamed for turning peaceful protests by Sunnis into armed resistance and pushing the Sunni community into the arms of Isis. This is an over-simplified version of recent history, but with the new government lauded internationally for its non-sectarian stance, the Sunni hoped they would face less day-to-day repression. “Isis has shocked many Sunni by its actions,” says Mahmoud. “But instead of the government treating us better to win us over, they are treating us even worse.”

The peaceful protests were not turned into armed resistance.

That's a lie.

It echoes Nouri's lie that the protesters were "terrorists."

As they reached the one year mark, Nouri announced he would burn down the protest sites and the people protesting.

He said that publicly on Iraqi television.

The Iraqi press reported it but Cockburn and the western press ignored it.

But now, he shows up to offer that the peaceful protesters took up arms.

That's the sort of crap that the State Dept offered when the Hawija slaughter took place with spokesperson Jen Psaki declaring the US government called for both sides to be rational.

The 8 children killed had been irrational?

It's suddenly okay to kill unarmed civilians including children?

And Jen Psaki could caution children that they needed to be rational and not so threatening to the poor little Iraqi forces.

The people were denied their vote, they were denied their officials seeking redress and now they were being attacked for exercising their right to peacefully assemble and protest.

This is the climate in which the Islamic State took hold.

Original sin?

On this 12th anniversary of the Iraq War, some are trying to pretend that today is all the result of March 19, 2003 (or March 20, 2003 since it was the 20th in most of the rest of the world when the bombings began).

It is really is about stupidity, isn't it?

Americans protested against the ongoing war.

They demonstrated.

If all was set in motion on March 19, 2003, we wasted our time.

We wasted our energy.

If you believe in this concept of 'original sin' with regard to the Iraq War.

This wasn't all set in motion.

If we'd had the power in 2004 to stop the illegal war, for example, things would be different today.

If we'd protested Barack's refusing to respect the vote of the Iraqi people, things would be different today.

If we'd protested Iraqi forces killing children?

Things would be different today.

'Original sin' with regards to the Iraq War is nonsense.

Yes, it's illegal.  Yes, it's unethical.

But if we had no power to mitigate it or lessen the pain, then we never should have protested.

If all the damage was done on that day, then what was the point of protesting?

I believe in protesting.

I believe in speaking out.

I also believe that the 'original sin' argument is the argument of the spineless.

They can't protest Barack.  They don't have the guts too -- even now.

The 'original sin' lie excuses their doing nothing year after year once Barack was sworn in as President of the United States.

It excuses the western press' repeated failures to report what was taking place in Iraq from 2010 to 2014.

In Iraq today, the Tikrit assault has revealed how weak the Baghdad - Tehran plan is and was.  Matt Bradley (Wall St. Journal) reports:

Iraqi security forces’ fight to liberate the city of Tikrit from Islamic State has slowed as the battle nears the end of its third week, dimming hopes that the extremist Sunni insurgency is on the retreat.
Iraqi security officials say their force of more than 20,000 fighters—mostly Shiite militiamen—has succeeded in forcing Islamic State from towns and villages to the south and east of the city, which lies about 87 miles northwest of Baghdad.

But the militias and soldiers have been unable to uproot the militants from the city center, where a few hundred Islamic State insurgents have been holed up for the past week protected by landmines, suicide bombers and snipers.

Dan Lamothe (Washington Post) adds:

The Pentagon warned on Thursday that Iraqi forces battling to reclaim the city of Tikrit are facing a tougher fight against the Islamic State than previously described.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren, speaking to reporters, said that Iraqi forces were now encircling the city of Tikrit, whose capture is seen as a key test of Iraq’s ability to defeat the Islamic State. Warren said the battles lines were now “static” and that Iraqi forces, which include government and militia fighters, had not yet moved into the city proper.

This was supposed to be the morale builder.

The battle that showed what the forces could do.

But let's again note  what Loveday Morris (Washington Post) reported yeserday:

Meanwhile, the pause in fighting in Tikrit has stirred doubts about whether pro-government forces can beat the Islamic State in street battles. Karim said the military decided to stall its advance to put in place a plan that would “guarantee fewer casualties.”
Workers in a cemetery in the southern city of Najaf, where many pro-government Shiite fighters are taken for burial, have said that as many as 60 fighters were dying a day at the peak of operations in Tikrit.
The pro-government forces are yet to enter the city center, but they have reclaimed a string of towns and villages in Salahuddin province, buoying morale among the about 20,000 militiamen who have joined the fight. A few hundred Sunni tribesmen also participated.

Three weeks in on their assault of Tikrit and they've still not made it to the center of the city.

Hundreds of Islamic State fighters are able to fight off over 20,000 Baghdad - Tehran forces.

No, it's not inspiring confidence.

Meanwhile, Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) reports at least 79 people were killed in violence across Iraq today.

Lastly, Senator Patty Murray serves on the Senate Budget Committee and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (and she has previously served as the Chair of both of those Committee).  Today, her office issued the following:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 CONTACT: Murray's Press Office
Thursday, March 19, 2015                                          (202) 224-2834
 
BUDGET/SEQUESTRATION: Murray Introduces Amendment to Replace Automatic Budget Cuts for Two More Years, Build on Bipartisan Budget Deal
 
Murray amendment to GOP budget would roll back sequestration for defense and non-defense investments
 
Murray: “Democrats and Republicans across the country have said that the across-the-board cuts to both defense and non-defense investments are terrible policy…need to be replaced”
 
MURRAY AMENDMENT BLOCKED BY COMMITTEE REPUBLICANS: Murray to continue fighting to replace automatic cuts, urges Republicans to work with her
 
Washington, D.C.—Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Budget Committee, introduced and called for a Budget Committee vote on her amendment to the Senate Republican Budget that would replace sequestration evenly across defense and non-defense investments for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. Republicans voted Murray’s amendment down in the Committee, but she plans to continue fighting in the Committee and on the floor to build on the bipartisan budget deal and roll back the automatic cuts that are hurting families, communities, and the economy in Washington state and across the country.
 
“Democrats and Republicans across the country have said that the across-the-board cuts to both defense and non-defense investments are terrible policy, an absurd way to reduce the deficit, and need to be replaced,” said Murray while introducing her amendment“I urge my colleagues to support this amendment so we can agree on responsible and realistic topline spending numbers for this year and allow the Appropriations Committees to do their work without waiting for another crisis…if my Republican colleagues have any other ideas for how we get this done—my door is open, and I am ready to get to work.”
 
At the end of 2013, Senator Murray and Representative Paul Ryan worked with their colleagues to pass the Bipartisan Budget Act, which prevented another government shutdown, rolled back sequestration evenly across defense and non-defense discretionary spending for two years, and moved Congress away from the constant crises.
 
The full text of Murray’s remarks introducing the bill follows:
 
Chairman Enzi, Ranking Member Sanders, I offer my amendment to build on the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 and extend the replacement of sequestration through fiscal years 2016 and 2017.
 
I don’t have to explain to most members of this committee why we need to replace the senseless automatic cuts with more responsible savings—I know almost all of you agree.
 
Democrats and Republicans across the country have said that the across-the-board cuts to both defense and non-defense investments are terrible policy, an absurd way to reduce the deficit, and need to be replaced.
 
There are Republicans on this Committee who have been very vocal about the need to roll back the cuts—and have even expressed openness to using revenue from the tax code to get this done.
 
Last year Democrats and Republicans were able to reach an agreement that rolled back the worst of these automatic cuts for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.
 
Our deal prevented another government shutdown, moved us away from the constant crises, andrestored critical investments in research, education, defense jobs, and more, and helped get the economy going again.
 
So this amendment builds on that deal and extends it for two more years.
 
It maintains the principle that Democrats will not abandon—that sequestration should be replaced evenly across defense and non-defense investments.
 
And it replaces the automatic cuts with new revenue from closing tax loopholes used by the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations, which, since this budget already contains massive spending cuts but no new revenue, would maintain the principle that sequestration should be replaced with a mix of responsible spending cuts and new revenue from those who can afford it most.
 
Finally, it includes language to automatically release the additional defense and nondefense funding to the Appropriations Committee upon the increase in the statutory caps, similar to language passed in the previous Senate Budget.  
 
So I urge my colleagues to support this amendment so we can agree on responsible and realistic topline spending numbers for this year and allow the Appropriations Committees to do their work without waiting for another crisis.
 
And if my Republican colleagues have any other ideas for how we get this done—my door is open—and I am ready to get to work.
 
###-
Eli Zupnick
Communications Director
U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
(202) 224-2834
Eli_Zupnick@murray.senate.gov

@elizupnick

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